Gordon Boswell

Gordon Boswell

Posted by gordonboswell on November 24, 2019 | Last Updated: November 6, 2020 Christmas Flowers Holidays

Include the Traditional Symbolism of Holly

As the holidays approach, we begin to see traditions we hold to crop up everywhere we look. From carols we sing and cookies we bake to how we decorate our homes and businesses, the holiday season brings out traditions that we value. The holly plant is a huge part of that traditional feel. It has been a symbol of Christmas for centuries, but did you know it was also used in winter celebrations during pre-Christian times? Ancient civilizations held holly in high esteem. Here, the floral experts at Gordon Boswell Flowers want to show you why the holly plant, December’s birth “flower,” has made such an impact for some many centuries. We’ll also show you some great ways to include it in your decor this season.

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

Holly Berries on Snowy Branch

Holly Wreath on Old Door

What is Holly?

Holly grows as a shrub-like tree, sometimes up to heights of 10-15 feet. Its leaves, thick and leathery, have serrated edges with sharp points, making them ideal for birds nesting in wintertime. The female version of the tree produces the red berries we so commonly see in holiday decor. These berries, while toxic to humans and most household pets, are a food source for many types of birds, like robins. As an evergreen, holly has been viewed throughout history as simply amazing for finding the resilience to thrive when many other plants and trees are dying around it. The wood from the tree is often used to make furniture and even piano keys, while the pointy leaves create a resistance to lightning that gives this tree an almost magical quality.

What Does Holly Symbolize?

There are many different meanings associated with the holly tree. Ancient Druids believed the tree possessed protective qualities and would place it in homes or bathe babies in water from the leaves for protection. Ancient Romans saw the holly tree as a symbol of good luck and fashioned wreaths out of the leaves to give to newlyweds. Holly has historically been used in winter festivals and celebrations, like the ancient Chinese New Year, the ancient Roman festival of Saturnalia, and the Christian celebration of Christmas.

white and red flowers with pine cones and holly in small vase

Holiday Beauty Bouquet

floral centerpiece in greens and reds with 2 red candles

Happy Holiday Centerpiece

white roses and alstroemeria with red holly berries in cube

Snow White Bouquet

How Can We Decorate with Holly?

Adding holly to your Christmas decor is as simple as placing some holly boughs on your fireplace mantle or including sprigs in vases on your holiday table. You can use holly as napkin rings, or hang a holly wreath on your front door. We love to include holly in our holiday floral designs. We use holly berries in our Holiday Beauty bouquet as accent pieces, while our Happy Holiday Centerpiece features gold holly berries and leaves. The holly berries in our Snow White bouquet add a bright burst of color against the white roses and alstroemeria.

Decorating with holly is simple and can be a great way to maintain age-old holiday traditions. Send or display beautiful floral designs that feature holly berries and leaves for a nod to the cultural significance of this long-lasting plant. For more great decorating ideas or to learn more about holly’s rich history, talk to the floral designers at Gordon Boswell Flowers. We’re happy to talk with you further about this gem of winter.